tv The Stream Al Jazeera March 23, 2014 12:30pm-1:01pm EDT
i'm morgan radford. more for you throughout the day on the fatal mudslide in washington state that killed three people. first, ""the stream"" is coming up. you're in "the stream." one of america's largest college fraternities is ending it's practice of hazing recruits. the fraternity was reportedly with the most reported hazing deaths. and others are following suit. the decades long practice.
as always, raj is bringing in all of your live feedback in the show, and raj, whether you pretended or not, it seems that everybody has an issue with hazing. >> the reason i never pledged, i would never join a group that hazed it's members, but a lot do. tony says: >> he makes a good point. tradition and strong social bonds, on college campuses are a centerpiece of the social scene, but some say that membership comes at a high price. a rite of passage or pledging is a rite for all new members.
it's rooted in secrecy and involved with hazing. by definition, hazing is any kind of abusive or humiliating initiation. the practice is outlawed in 40 states, but it's often unreported. epsilons the second national fraternity to eliminate hazing from all of its chapters. but some wonder if the move will force practices under ground. so why is hazing allowed to thrive in greek life? here to help us answer some of these questions, frank noore, specializing in education, and she's the president of the council. nate burke is an alumni of pi alpha at the university of
florida, and colin, a student and unaffiliated member of alpha he has lan pi in connecticut. he left the fraternity following differences with leadership. welcome to the stream. and hank, for decades, we have heard hazing stories, and we have seen them reenacted in animal house and old school, so why is one of the largest fraternities in the nation doing something now? >> they're doing it as a means to try to bring back the reputation of bloomberg using some of the research i did, it was a fraternity that had the most deaths of aid certain period, ten, and they called them america's most deadly fraternity. and it stucked but it's insurance that they're paying, and lost reputation, and not being welcome on some campuses where they have had problems. >> colin, more people are starting to speak out and break the code of silence, and you're
one of them. was the idea that knowing that the system has to change part of your reason for speaking out? >> yes, [ audio difficulties ] >> if you're new to watching the extreme, we bring in a variety of our guests on different platforms. and it's a way to get voices into the show. sometimes the technology is not always perfect. we're going to work on getting nate a little clearer there. but illian a. i wan ileana, i wo you about this, what are you saying got it into this predicament in the first place?
knowing what goes on inside of fraternities and sororities. >> that's a really good question. i think that one thing that perpetuates hazing and power, perpetuation of power, it's a tradition of preservation over progress. and i think that i've seen it in my role in greek leadership among my peers, there's a real hesitancy to speak up and a real loyalty to tradition and a fear of going against tradition and a normalcy with all of these behaviors, but when you have come in, they might seem absurd. a night of drinking or what you're expected to do, but then they're normalized in a culture of questions, during your pledge term. so once you're normalized to it, you then perpetuate the same cycles of power when you're an older member, and you bring that to the next generation, a feeling that you earned this in your fraternity.
psychological motivation of hazing. >> absolutely, i think one of the main things why anyone would join an organization in their college appearance is because they want to connect with the community. they join different groups, different clubs, whatever, because people need people. we're a social organization because we're social beings, and we many to interact with people. and create a home away from home. and i think that's a lot of what it is. just these groups that already exist, and you want to be part of it because you want to feel like you have a place where you can belong and connect, and find answers to questions in the community. so it's this sense of belonging and desire to connect with other people and connect to your campus in a way that makes you feel less alone. so those can be really great things, and they're what gives us a lot of positive data as far as the retention for our university.
but at what cost? sometimes that desire to be part of something also comes at the no matter what i have to do to get there, and that's where hazing scenarios they want that experience because my father went through this, and any grandfather, and i want the same things they have. so that part of it as well, the ideas this they think the fraternity experience should be, and they even want that themselves. >> colin, we have you back on the phone, so i think your audio is going to be clearer. we talk about hazing, sometimes it includes excessive psychological abuse, and then talk about the push back that you got when you spoke out about it. >> >> so my organization got rid of hazing on paper about five years
before i joined, so that went getting rid of alcohol, and a culture like that doesn't just change like that. some things that i've experienced, a night that really sticks out to me is, we were brought into the living room of the off-campus house, and told to surn in our cellphones, brought into the house, and forced to recite greek information, the greek alphabet as our pledge brothers are doing wall sits and pushups, and one would be picked from the group. and i remember as i'm watching this, i'm thinking, this is not happening right now. this is occurring right if front of my eyes, and it was shocking. >> ileana mentioned the normal organization of this kind of behavior, and if your research, do you see a big role in how
this is being perpetuated in. >> two researchers have information, and number one, there's more liking for a group where the initiation is and getting? harder, and the second one, which is more recent research, the liking for a high status group is more if the participants perceive it as a particularly high status group, and they're willing to do anything to not leave that group, so those are important and piggybacking on what she said. >> what you want, you perceive you cannot have. >> i interviewed irving janice, who passed away at yale, who invented the group think theory, and he said a lot of hazing is all about comradery, and none of us can get enough pats on the back >> indeed. does a ban on pledging mean more hazing?
that bloomberg news has reported as having the most fraternity related deaths is sigma alpha epsilon. but will this change hazing? i was in the greek system, and i remember all too well that the national organizations instructing chapters to do something didn't necessarily comply. do you really think that getting rid of pledging really means getting rid of haying? >haying? not necessarily. i think what we'll see in the implementation stage what will happen. but you're absolutely right. there are things that happen at a national organization that are important. because that sets the tone and it's what we value and put our resources, so that's important. and i applaud their effort in making a bold move. whether it transfers to every organization, we'll see. but things don't always go along with
all of our organizations. all of our offices right now say that hazing is not allowed, and they have strong policies about that, but we know that hazing occurs. but that's no reason to discredit it. because deciding what we value and is important matters as we say who we are and what we're trying to accomplish. >> hank, a lot of this exists and is defined because hazing and pledging is a cherished tradition. this is something that goes back for decades, and it's cultural and deeply engrained. how do you unravel something that's so set in the cultural psyche of the system. >> it's the multitiered process. number one, you have to reach the troop level now and were possibly hazed last semester and are now told that they can't do it, you have strong donating money, and they're disappointed
that the tradition is gone, and you have pretty strong executives who are tired of attending funerals who must convince board members that it's wrong. so the issue is this. limiting to maybe three days the intake of new members, and members then try to get all of their abuse, if that's what hazing is, into three days, or can they learn from this? i think it can be done over time, at least over a three or four year time because phi delta did that by making all of its houses alcohol free. not all of them have, but a lot have. they have increased their membership, they have lowered their insurance, and they have increased their prestige and trust. and i think that will happen to sae in three or four years, but they have to really watch their individual chapters in that
amount of time until the current undergraduates graduate. eliana, i want to the go to you, and hank, we were just talking about how it's in the culture, and it will merely force hazing to go underground and off campus. >> i really think that's a major concern. i think its something that i've read about and experienced on my campus, hazing with a capital h and hazing with a lower case h. so you have the hazing that goes on behind closed doors, the dangerous drinking and behavior, and then you have the hazing that's wearing the same clothing and having an older member of
your fraternity or sorority wearing the same clothing as you and having a partnership, which is also hazing. i think there can be a murky definition and a blurry line as there is already. and i think that across the board, hazing exists in some capacity, whether it's at the team level of wearing the same clothes or at the dangerous, sort of behind closed doors level. and i think for me, the big part of is it is not so much attacking hazing but placing an emphasis on not asking questions, and not accepting what you're told when you first join a house. that's the most dangerous act. you're expected to dob what you're told and not and questions, and be a follower, and that's what perpetuates the hazing. it's not so much the hazing itself, but it seems like an off-product of a culture where you can't say no to things in your community.
>> 82% of deaths from hazing involve alcohol. is the larger problem here really this binge drinking and excessive use of alcohol on campus, particularly in the fraternities? >> i don't think it's separate from it. i think you have to take them all as a package. for example, the phi delta theta serious drinking incidents dropped considerably when the houses went dry, and a lot of sororities have existed without any hazing whatsoever because they have kept their houses dry. for me, any kind of aggravated risk, whether it's driving while intoxicated, coming back from a pledge party, the hazing itself, the beating of a human being, all of those things together are aggravated and remind me very much of why people get in
trouble for driving a car while intoxicated. it happened to jim mersa of the indianapolis colts. and anything you do is going to result in a death and it has done so 11 times in the last few years. >> it reminds me of the sae in 2011, they tried to ban alcohol and all of its chapters vote today down. how is it that the chapters trump what the national organization is recommending. >> i'm not entirely sure of the structure of their organization, if that's something that needed to be voted on by a certain number of capitals at a convention, and sometimes those policies matter and are different from other organizes, so i can't necessarily speak to that. but i would like to add onto the comment that you made about will this push things under ground? i think that's a valid comment and concern, but it's the same thing with any policy that we have.
any risk management procedure, alcohol behavior, policy, whatever it is, none of it works by policy alone. it comes down to implementation, and what sort of support we're provide on the ground so. i think our al up nigh volunteers are key in that. if you have alumni who have been trained by the national office and/or the university institution, trained on what is, how they can mentor their members, and how they know what is acceptable behavior, and you have them present at ceremonies, and you have them involved in what's going on, and you're coaching the people through, that's the purpose of an alumni volunteer. when our officers who are 18 or 19 years old, transitioning every term. the advisers are there. >> nate, you bring up who shouldish held accountable. bob says:
colin, i want to get you back in the conversation, who should ultimately be held responsible for haze on college campuses? >> we're all responsible. but obviously the people who do it are the most responsible, so the perpetrators themselves. i think the leadership in the situation also play a role. whether they report it and they don't know, and they don't do anything, or they have no idea what's happening, they have partial responsibility right there. so i think everyone is partially responsible in some way. but definitely the people who do it are obviously the most responsible. >> can i come in on that a little bit? >> sure. >> my graduate degree, there's a student development theory that says behavior is a function of the interaction between the person and the environment.
so we can't just focus on just the environment or the person, but we have to recognize that all of those things come together. so yes, the people involved are responsible for sure, but we have to look at what environment created by the organization, by the national organization, by the institution that helped that person engage if that behavior. so you have to look at all of the players, and we're all responsible because we're all connected to this issue. >> up next, 44 states have anti-hazing laws, and the states are stepping up with alternative prevention programs. is it time to rethink the greek system
al jazeera america. >> welcome back. we're talking about frat he went taking drastic action to try to stop hazing. sigma phi epsilon replaced it with the balanced man program several decades ago to foster leadership and personal growth. so nate, this is credited to contributing to higher gpas, and lower legal costs for the fraternity. and is it enough.
>> the balanced man program is a great program, and a great example of a national office determining what they value and how that should be lived out in the new member experience and just the general membership experience in general. i think their goal there is to eliminate power dynamics in groups, and i applaud it. but it's still transitioning. chapters are still figuring out how to make it work themselves and there's still time. but like we said before, it has to have the buy-in and the chapter alumni from the chapter so it comes down from the national office. >> it doesn't seem that there has been any significant action taken on these issues, even though there has been much wrangling for decades, and why do you think that is? >> it has been very difficult to get a hazing law passed that doesn't have a lot of compromise, and in several stays, they were not constitutional.
and there has been an attempt three times to have a federal law, and it hasn't been well written, and it's very difficult when you have fraternity members to get people to agree on a bill. >> well, the community has tweeted in on the solutions. , . >> eliminating hazing is all about putting victims with faces, and i'm talking about putting the victims and the families face-to-face with fraternity members.
guys who have served time and been arrested as a result of hazing crimes, they have to be put face-to-face with pratt he went members as well. and finally, those of us who didn't think that hazing was such a big deal. we were undergraduates and we matured and now we're dead set against it, and we have to speak out much more. >> elian a. give me your wisdom here, what's the way forward? >> one huge way is with the alums. alums have a lot of power about keeping institutions intact and changing institutions. i abstained from my winter recruitment this term, and there was so much support from alums that is usually pretty silent. a lot of the time, the voices heard on campus and sororities are the ones giving money to preserve it.
we need the alums of the fraternities or the sororities, whether they had a positive or negative experience to change over in the college leadership. i just left my position, and so really, it's very little time to make concrete change. then the next group has to come in and essentially reinvent the wheel. so we need people outside of it who have a lot of power to shape these institutions to come forward and help and really lead the way with that. >> colin, we have about 30 seconds left. some people have suggested banning the greek system altogether as the way to go. and is that the way that's safest? >> i don't think it is. you can't generalize the entire system as inherently bad. i think closing bad chapters possibly, but stepping up, there's a culture of silence going on, and when you have that, it's so difficult.
>> thanks to all of our guests for joining us and we're out of time. until next time, we'll see you good afternoon. we've got a busy news day ahead for you, can coming up in the half hour, rescue crews are on the scene in washington state where a search for survivors is now underway. the coast guard told us, you know, don't eat fish you catch together. >> plus a barge with 900,000 gallons of oil crashing off the texas gulf coast. a syrian jet shot down by